Brother Blue, 1921-2009

Brother Blue was a storyteller from Cambridge, Massachusetts. He died last week, and as one of our secular saints, his passing deserves notice. He enjoyed being at once eccentric and affirming. He had a calling, and the calling was touching souls, but he called his calling storytelling, and so it was. Like Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers, it didn’t bother him if people thought he was simple. He would probably have considered it a compliment. Brother Blue’s real name was Hugh, but his brother, who was mentally disabled, could only say Blue, and so it was.

I saw him perform a few times, and I can tell you that he knew how to make it work. I once heard him give advice to younger storytellers on what to do when the audience is mostly empty chairs. Just think, said Blue, that those chairs are filled with angels. And when you heard him say it, you knew that for him, they were.

The most valuable thing I learned from Brother Blue was his secret. Brother Blue’s Secret. I have thought about it before every talk I’ve given since I first heard it eleven years ago. It’s a good one. I wrote it down, and I’ll share it with you: Brother Blue’s Secret.